Thursday, February 14, 2013

Magic Theory 101 - Is it a good or bad idea to stick with one deck through a Constructed Season?

By: Enrico Agostino Guarneri

I asked a couple of top local players, and international professional players whether it is a good or bad idea to keep playing the same deck throughout a constructed season.  These were their replies:

Adam Katz:
“When playing a big event it’s really important to have lots of experience with the deck you are playing. From that end its helpful to have played the deck in many tournaments however testing in a home setting can give you the same edge. So if you do not do enough home testing I would say it’s important to stick to the same deck, if you do enough testing then I think it’s fairly irrelevant, so if you like the deck keep playing it, if you think there is something better then switch.”

Russell Tanchel:
“I prefer to play all sorts of different decks. Playing one deck all the time is boring. I enjoy exploring all the different colours, speed, and strategies of the different decks. I will play a deck from around 1 to 3 times, changing some cards every new tournament. If I find a deck I really really like I will occasionally play it more often. But I prefer switching between aggro, control and midrange.”

Jarcque Henning:
“It is an advantage to play different decks. Learning the ins and outs of different decks will give you a feel of how to play against it and even how to beat it. But also a disadvantage by not knowing one deck good enough. I think it all comes down to personal preference, and how versatile your play skills are.”

Michael Strauss:
“Personally I prefer mixing up decks as it keeps things interesting and avoids games becoming monotonous, but obviously I have my favourite deck, or style of decks in the season that I would stick to in bigger events.”

Colin Bosman:
“It all depends on the metagame. Some decks are good throughout a season, but if the meta shifts, a deck change is a good idea. It also depends on card availability from the player.”

Nic Chrysochou:
"Due to the progressive nature of competitive magic, ideas and strategies change on a weekly basis making it gruelling to keep up with the metagame.
From personal experience I feel that playing different decks over the course of a season would be more beneficial to the player in that one can learn all the tricks and play styles of the decks in order to understand all the various archetypes. But this requires a serious time investment and constant contact with the professional game.
Therefore sticking to one deck and tweaking it over the course of the season could allow for more consistent results as long as that archetype remains competitive."

Craig Douglas Wescoe (USA):

“If (it’s a bad idea), then I'm guilty because I stick to white weenie”

Todd Anderson (USA):
“There are certainly merits for tuning and playing the same deck throughout an entire constructed season, but certain changes to the metagame could invalidate your strategy. It is important to know when to keep sailing, or to jump ship.”

Charles Gindy (USA):
“(I)t doesnt make you a weaker player. Some people do extremely well playing the same deck for entire seasons. I do however think that you might have a more narrow view of decks if you don't diversify your deck selection. It's good to get the opponents point of view (of the matchup).”

Brad Nelson (USA):
“(It’s not a bad idea because) you learn (the deck) and become more proficient with it. It is bad to play it if it’s bad in a current meta, but its cheaper and easier to do”

Ryan Hipp (USA):
“Metagames shift, if a deck can adapt well and you can play it well, by all means, stick to it. But I try not to get overly attached to any list, especially once people are aware of the deck. There is little better feeling then walking into a match knowing your opponent has no idea what your deck is trying to do.”

Matthew Nass (USA):
“There's a balance. It's good to be comfortable with what you're playing, but if the metagame shifts and the deck becomes unplayable, you may have to adapt.”

Kyle Boggemes (USA):
“I would argue it's best to stick with the deck you know best. It's very rare there has been a deck so good it's worth abandoning a deck you know. This is amplified by the fact if a deck has created a bandwagon effect, then the competitors will be aware how to beat this deck already.”

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa  (Brazil):

“I think it depends on the season; in some formats, decks are very close in power level, it's definitely possible to choose a deck and try to play it very well. Take, for example, Jund in modern - it was a good deck since the format began and it's still a good deck. If you spent all your time mastering Jund then that would be a good thing.

Sometimes, though, certain types of deck just don't work; take, for example, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa - he specializes in control decks and, when control decks were good, he was one of the most successful players on the pro tour. Then we got to a point where control decks were no longer good, but he just kept playing them - and eventually he fell off the train despite being one of the best players in the world.

So I think it's fine to stick to a deck, up to the point where it isn't - if that deck or that style of deck is bad, then you have to be able to let go, you're doing yourself a disservice if you insist on something that clearly doesn't work, no matter how much experience you have with it. If the decks are similar, then sure, stick to your guns, but if your deck is actually much worse then you can't do that.”


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